The Phillies on Wednesday provided another example of why it’s so difficult to believe they have staying power in even a dull National League East.
Hector Neris failed to protect a one-run lead in the top of the ninth inning and the Phils lost a wild one, 13-12, to the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park.
Moments earlier, in the bottom of the eighth, the Phils had rallied for two runs to take a 12-11 lead.
Neris allowed hits to three of the first four batters in the ninth to blow the lead. He has three blown saves in his last four appearances and five overall. He was booed loudly after blowing the save.
The win gave the Nationals a sweep of the two-game series and moved them past the Phillies for second place in the NL East.
The Phillies fell to 34-37. The Phils could wake up Thursday trailing the Mets by five games.
Here’s three takeaways:
Phillies pitching was awful on Wednesday. The Phillies blew a 5-0 lead in the fifth inning and a 9-5 lead in the sixth inning. Phillies pitchers gave up 11 hits, including a three-run homer and a grand slam, and walked eight.
Manager Joe Girardi made some questionable moves in the bullpen in the middle innings and none of them worked.
Starter Vince Velasquez held a 5-0 lead into the fifth inning but slowly untangled under the weight of two no-out walks, an RBI double by Starlin Castro, and an RBI single by Victor Robles that actually could have been scored an error on second baseman Brad Miller.
With his team ahead, 5-2, and two men on base, Girardi pulled the dimming Velasquez and went to right-hander Archie Bradley with Kyle Schwarber due up. It was a strange decision considering Schwarber hits left-handed and Girardi had four lefty relievers in his bullpen.
Girardi’s decision to go to Bradley quickly went bad when Schwarber clubbed the second pitch he saw, a hanging breaking ball, over the left-field wall for a game-tying three-run homer.
Andrew McCutchen hit a grand slam in the bottom of the fifth to give the Phils the lead (more on that later).
The Phillies’ lead did not last long. Girardi went to Sam Coonrod in the top of the sixth and he issued a pair of one-out walks and one with two outs to set up Trea Turner for a two-run single.
That caused Girardi to make another strange bullpen move as he replaced Coonrod with righty Dave Hale, who is typically a long man, with Juan Soto’s dangerous left-handed bat due up. Hale did not respond well to the tough situation. He walked Soto to load the bases then allowed a grand slam to Josh Bell on a full-count fastball.
Bell’s slam made it a six-run sixth for the Nationals and gave them an 11-9 lead. Six of the 11 runs that Washington scored in the fifth and sixth innings started as walks.
The Phillies out-hit a lot of bad pitching to take the lead in the eighth, but ultimately it turned into one of the ugliest losses of the season and another reason to doubt this team.
The Phillies came back in the bottom of the fifth and went up by four runs on a pinch-hit grand slam by McCutchen.
The Phillies came back in the bottom of the fifth and went up by four runs on a pinch-hit grand slam by Andrew McCutchen.
The homer was the 256th of McCutchen’s career but first as a pinch-hitter. He did not start the game because of a sore knee.
Along with that home run, Travis Jankowski hit his first home run since 2018.
Bryce Harper also hit his second home run is as many days.
The Phillies’ offense did not disappoint. They tallied 15 hits and got the job done scoring 12 runs. The pitching, obviously, didn’t back up this offense.
This one took a while
Even the worse, the game lasted four hours and 19 minutes.
The Phillies are off Thursday before heading to New York for a four-game series against the first-place Mets on Friday night.